Hanuman movie review AKA Violent Visual Media

The visual media seems to take most of the blame for all of societies evils these days; While I dislike most TV, is it fair to lay all the blame at visual media's door step?

We watched the eminently avoidable first Indian animation movie Hanuman; We even bought the DVD. My excuses? Impulse, Misplaced patriotic fervour, loyalty to Indian Software so-called Genius, dad on the phone demanding to know whether to buy or not, immediately and finally my son's blatant enjoyment of the movie.
The makers erred on every possible angle in making the movie:
  • The fundamental error was making Hanuman some sort of a super-human on steroids and portraying Rama as a God from childhood itself. In my view, the most beautiful thing about Hinduism is an emphasis on nature and nuture. Fundamentally flawed beings rise to the occasion drawing upon their inborn abilities and their breeding and show themseleves to be worthy of God-like worship. This was totally lost by the makers of this movie.
  • At the conception stage, instead of paring the story down to an almost manageable Amar Chitra Katha comic level, they added even more unnecessary details like Hanuman forgetting his super human abilities, playing with Rama as a child, Hanuman having a son etc...
  • At the development stage , Total lack of characterisation - every one sounds the same! What makes western animation eminently watchable is the beautiful voice characterisations. Can we ever forget SHer Khan, or Mike in Monster's Inc or even Shrek? None of the voice overs was in the least bit remarkable in this movie.
  • The background music was indifferent at best and a painful cacophony at worst. Camlin has wisely adopted the best bit in the entire movie, and has inadvertently brought a huge audience of 3 - 9 year olds to the movie.
  • Very poor censoring of the fundamental story, the burning of Lanka being a case in point. I don't like the idea of a child observing God burning down an entire city in a fury when the reason for the punishment of innocent bystanders escapes even my adult cognizance. The wanton violence of the rakshashas, the indiscriminate punishing by the devas etc... futher illume their poor discrimination. A lot of his friends had nightmares about Rakshashas after wtaching this movie.
Now we come to the effects of this movie. In the midst of a disciplinary melt down, my son suddenly declared he feels like setting me on fire! Did it ever occur as a just punishment to us, of the pre-visual-media generation? We did hear the story at a equally young age. Is gautham better on drawing on his fount of knowledge or is this the effect of watching a city burn in the movie? Do pictures really pack more of a punch than illustrative words from someone whose stories generally facsinate? I remember being most thrilled by Jatayu - the vulture king killed by Ravana as he abducts Sita. I have always loved doomed heroes for some reason.

3 months ago he was still allowed only 30 - 60 minutes of TV a day, but I had more control over the content. We watched soothing POGO programmes like Kipper, Oswald, Miffy. Now after having discovered online games at Cartoon Network India and Cartoon Network (thanks to my 12 year old cousin), I have less control and more violence in my house. I dont know whether to attribute it to the video game or the growing-into-a-boy phase of his development. He loves to wrestle with sathish these days and he has started snatching back rather than come to me crying when he "argues" with his friends over toys.

I still think it is better to start a controlled TV viewing programme at home rather than have him exposed to visual media in a friend/relative's house without supervision. This way I get to tell him the violence is pretended not real, the advertisers are just trying to make money and sell more etc...

He remembers some of the not so clearly pictured parts of the movie too, so, I am still wondering what brought on the fire remark. In the midst of a bustling shopping complex, he wanted to know who was Hanuman's wife. I told him he was not married. Then he demanded to know in his ear-splitting voice, how could Hanuman have a son when he didnt have a wife. He went on to speculate Sita is his wife. I thanked my stars I was not visiting a orthodox Iyengar temple with him.

This begetting a son has become a frequently repeated theme with him after Lion King. He wants to know whether he will have a son when he is "as tall as amma, no, as tall as appa". He was then wondering what to name him!!!!! I have assured him the name will just come to him.
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